This post was updated on Sep 2, 2023
When you hear the word “passion”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Do you think about romance and passionate love, or do you think of finding your passion or a feeling of purpose in life?
Most people use the word to refer to strong or intense emotions, including desire, motivation, or strong sexual attraction.
But is this intersection of meaning, desire and commitment something that only some of us have, while others search far and wide to find it? Are passionate experiences as elusive as happiness?
What Is Passion?
Passion can mean a lot of different things to different people. For some, passionate relationships take the form of obsessive love or sexual attraction, while others see it as long-term commitment and sustained motivation.
Most definitions of the word seem to include intense feelings and emotions, whether long-term or short lived. In general, passionate feelings are often linked with partners, topics, people, and activities with some common characteristics.
In general, signs of a passionate engagement are that it is:
- Something enjoyable to experience
- Something you value and prioritize
- Something you’re dedicated to
Is Passion Hard to Find?
Everybody has their own idea of what passion means to them, but we all agree that when we are passionate about someone or something, it becomes precious, valuable, and we are motivated around it. Where a passionate relationship exists (to someone or something), we cherish its rarity. Passionate love for a person or a pursuit is special.
But, this doesn’t necessarily mean that passion is something that you must necessarily quest for on pilgrimage like some elusive and mythical thing. Sometimes passion is immediately evident, and sometimes it is cultivated. A passionate relationship can start in many ways.
It’s a mistake to think that passion is always spontaneous, intense and self-apparent. It can also be grown and curated. Most people who are passionate about something started out with an interest, then a commitment, then an enthusiasm, then a passion. This is true whether it’s work, a hobby, personal growth, the quality of a relationship, or any other area of inspiration.
What is Passion in a Relationship?
When most of us think of passion, what comes to mind is a kind of physical intimacy, intense longing, and emotional connection that exists in a romantic love. When people are experiencing a passionate love, they usually think about keeping things exciting, and having powerful intimacy as passionate lovers.
Often this kind of passion in your relationship is associated with the early stages of a romance, when intense romantic love and physical intimacy are in their most curious stages. The excitement of novel experience with someone can be thrilling.
What happens too often, however, is that we mistake the lack of novelty with a lack of passion as the relationships progress. Things like relationship stability, marital satisfaction, and the development of a consistent strong bond can feel like passion-killers to someone who only associates a passionate relationship with that freshness and high energy of a new experience.
For many people in a long-term romantic relationship, there is an evolution from the initial intensity of desire, into the meaningful depth of compassionate love and companionate love. Compassionate love involves feelings and is rooted in emotional maturity. Companionate love, is a connection that happens between two persons who experience companionship and equality.
Both happen when securely attached individuals tend to connect in a way that is based on an intention to create lasting romance through ongoing connection rather than on emotional and physical dependence. Passionate love, compassionate love and companionate love can all exist together.
What if You Think the Passion is Gone?
Novelists, screenwriters and poets through the ages have given us a idealized version of what many think a passionate relationship should look like. We tend to think that intense longing, sustained excitement, and sexual interest in a partner are the key signs that a passionate connection exists. If you are gauging the passion in your relationship by these artistic standards, then you may tend to feel dissatisfied.
When you think your relationship lacks those idealized traits – maybe the volume on passion is going down, and the volume on predictability is going up – we may start to look despairingly at our partner, or even feel depressed about the state of the relationship.
If you believe that your relationship is needing an infusion of passionate connection, then it may feel like a healthy move for each person, or the partners together, to work with relationship coaches to help keep the spark alive. Discovering what your personal signs of a passionate connection are is an important step.
Remember that compassionate love endures, and if you and your partner have compassionate love, then the ingredients are already there for positive work to take place.
It’s also helpful to remember that the word “passion” may need a re-frame as a relationship matures. It may not be possible to re-create the intensity that came with the novelty of the honeymoon phase, but it may be possible to to find ways to explore the deep sense of thrilling love that exists, so that aspects of the relationship can feel new and exciting.
Signs of a Passionate Long-Term Romantic Relationship
The following are signs that you may be in a long-term relationship that has all the positive indicators for new and exciting elements to deepen your passionate love. We could consider the following to be signs of a passionate potential in a relationship. If these exist, passion, or the foundation for it, may grow:
1. Each partner shares a sense of mutual admiration and mutual respect for the other
2. Both partners enjoy each other’s company
3. Each partner is in it for the long haul and each is passionate about their commitment
4. Each partner in the relationship is willing to communicate openly about intimacy, affection, and physical closeness
5. There is an effort to do intentional activities, like date nights and just-us time if children exist
6. Each partner celebrates the unique qualities of the other
7. Small gestures of love and appreciation take place by the partners
8. There is a commitment to creating new memories, such as trips, activities or new experiences
9. Feelings of stability and comfort are not mistaken for boredom
10. Partners inspire each other
11. Passionate love and affection feel important to both people in the relationship. Both persons have a willingness to feel passionate connection with each other
If you’ve read all of the above and believe that your long-term relationship lacks the ingredients to keep passion alive, that is not uncommon. Feeling like the “spark is gone” happens in many long-term relationships. Even in relationships where real love for the partner exists.
It is normal for the relationship and for each person to change as life gets more dynamic and challenges take place.
Maybe you are in a relationship where betrayal, or a breach of trust has happened. Maybe avoidance, or practical circumstances like work have created a lot of relational distance. Maybe the emotional connection and sense of mutual respect have been worn down by ongoing conflict.
We understand. We work with situations like this all the time. Understanding the interplay between passionate love, compassionate love, and dispassionate detachment may be something that a relationship coach could help guide you through. Reigniting passionate relationships is not impossible, but often it requires help and work.
Is Passion Stronger Than Love?
In romantic relationships, the word passion is often used to refer to infatuation and intense sexual attraction. Romantic passion is also often contrasted with compassionate love, with the former being a temporary phase of euphoria or ecstasy and the latter being a lasting state of living.
Initial passionate desire is often strong, yet short lived. By contrast, companionate love and emotional intimacy tend to be better predictors of happiness in the relationship, although both can have a positive impact, depending on the relational goals.
If long-term success and stability is the relational goal, love would seem to have greater value. If the relationship is understood by each person in it to be short-lived, and intensity-focused, then a valuing a passionate relationship makes sense.
The fact that passion may feel like it has more intensity than compassionate love does not mean that it is “stronger.” And, it’s also helpful to remember that a passionate relationship can also include compassionate love, provided that the definition of passion matures as the relationship matures.
How Long Does Passion Last?
It’s easy to get lost in romantic passion and expect that the intense feelings will last forever. Unfortunately, this kind of attraction has an expiration date. How long the intensity of the passionate honeymoon phase lasts is unique to each person.
It’s not realistic to expect long-term compassionate love to have the same passionate energy that existed in the initial season, because passionate relationships have factors to consider like novelty, unique experience, and initial intrigue that can’t be sustained. What CAN happen, however is that the relationship can have new dimensions of intensity and interest.
Mistaking Intensity for Passionate Love
In trying to understand why a relationship may seem to have “fizzled out”, it is very common to discover that a person mistakes chaos for passion. Intensity feels passionate because the energy level is very high.
Sometimes even relationships with a high degree of conflict feel passionate because the fights are impassioned, the feelings are intense, there is a level of risk, and, sometimes the make-up-sex feel like passionate love.
In this kind of relationship, there can be a roller-coaster-like feel, and the people involved in the relationship become uncomfortable and restless when things are calm and steady.
Even negative feelings can have a degree of magnitude that feels like passion. If you’ve heard yourself saying any of the following, it could be an important sign that you’ve mistaken intensity for passion:
- The person wouldn’t be so angry if they didn’t love me so much
- I know we fight a lot, but the way we make up makes it worthwhile
- Without (chaos, behavioral addictions, family drama, etc.) I think it’d be kinda boring.
- As soon as I knew the person wasn’t going anywhere, I felt less interested.
- I never know how they’re going to act, which feels exciting for me.
If you believe that things like stability, consistency, or contentment can not co-exist with passion, then you may have a misunderstanding about what a passionate relationship looks like. You may be thinking more about chaotic intensity.
How Do You Bring Back Passion?
Whether you feel like you’ve lost attraction to your partner and wish to revive a dying relationship or want to bring back passionate energy into a good relationship that feels a bit stale, you may find value in the following tips:
- Take a step back.
Slowing down can help you get in touch with your deepest values and enable you to reconnect with your partner. This may mean going on walks in nature, practicing yoga, and relaxing with your loved one. Intentional, nurturing activities can be as rewarding and passionate as those with great intensity.
- Rekindle emotional connections.
Open and honest communication can do wonders for rekindling connection in your relationship. Creating emotional intimacy is often an encouraging step toward more dynamic relationships. Compassion and emotional connections matter. Remember that compassionate love is the healthy evolution of the initially passionate relationships.
- Learn to live in the moment.
Focusing on the present moment and practicing mindfulness can both rekindle your personal passions and improve your romantic relationships. Continued focusing on what it “used to be like” is a set-up for disappointment in companionate love.
- Combat your fears.
Whether you are afraid of ending up alone or struggle with being vulnerable, facing your fears and insecurities is necessary if you want to move forward and nurture healthy relationships in your life. Honest self-reflection will improve the overall quality of your life.
- Do your own personal development.
Take some time to inventory your own personal history with passion. You may need to redesign what relationships look like and what the signs of a passionate relationship are. Think about what passionate love means to you and who/what influenced your ideals.
Speak With A Relationship Coach Online And Revive Your Passion
We understand that a longing for human love is normal and that a desire for passionate love is part of a healthy human experience. We have specific training around healthy relationships and are uniquely qualified to help you as an individual, or you and your partner together to understand and explore passion in your relationship.
At PIVOT, we strive to help individuals and couples find more purpose and enjoyment in their lives by offering expertise-based relationship coaching and advice to facilitate positive change.
Through a wide range of tailored intensive workshops and retreats, we can help you achieve balance in your emotional life and promote sustained psychological well-being. It is our goal to provide you with the tools and resources you need to overcome your fears and heal your emotional wounds. Get in touch with a PIVOT advocate today.